Assistant Professor, Neuropsychology, UNHM ~ Brazil
In May 2019, I traveled to southwestern Brazil to lecture on the neuropsychology of neurodegenerative disorders and dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, at the Universidade Estadual do Centro-Oeste (Midwestern State University). Brazil is on the verge of a rapid increase in the rate of dementia, and I went down there to share what I have learned about this topic after studying it for nearly 20 years. In addition to providing small and large lectures, I also developed strong, personal relationships with professors and administrators, which will serve as the foundation for future research collaborations and study abroad programs.
The Universidade Estadual do Centro-Oeste is located in a mid-sized town (~50,000 residents) in the southwestern state of Paraná, Brazil. The U.S. and Brazil have different models for training clinical psychologists and clinical neuropsychologists. In Brazil, students enter into clinical psychology programs directly after graduating from high school, and the students who attended my talks were in varying stages of becoming clinical psychologists and neuropsychologists. Additionally, psychologists, neuropsychologists, professors and administrators attended these talks. The feedback that I received was overwhelmingly positive. For example, the chair of the Psychology department commented that my presentation style lends well for connecting with the audience. In addition to presenting, I also met with a variety of lab directors to discuss their research programs. It is a Brazilian tradition that when a foreign professor comes and talks they plant a tree to remember the occasion. Neuropsychology Professor Plinio Toni helped me plant a Brazilian pine tree on the campus to remember the occasion.
During my time at Universidade Estadual do Centro-Oeste I developed strong relationships with professor Plinio and others, which will serve as the foundation for future collaborations. Shortly after returning home, we wrote an abstract about our experience entitled, “Internationalization at Home and the Use of English as a Medium of Instruction (EMI) in Higher Education: an experience at the Psychology Department of Unicentro/Brazil.” Professor Toni will present this work at the “8th Congress of Psychology of the Central-South region of Parana.” This abstract is only the beginning of our collaborations. We are currently discussing details around developing a study abroad program, which would allow UNH students to travel to Brazil (and vice versa). Specifically, for this next step we are working on creating a UNH-managed “Faculty-led short term education abroad program,” which would likely be run during our spring break week.
In addition to working with individuals at the Universidade Estadual do Centro-Oeste, I also traveled to Curitiba, Brazil and met with officials at the Universidade Federal do Paraná (Federal University of Paraná). Brazil’s higher education system has three tiers, which includes State, Federal and private universities. The Universidade Federal do Paraná has a total enrollment of approximately 36,000 students and is located in a metropolitan area with a population of around 3.5 million. At this university I met the chair of the Psychology department as well as administrators from the International Affairs office. This university is much larger than Universidade Estadual do Centro-Oeste, and has a robust study abroad program, which may also be useful in developing future collaborations.
Overall, my trip to Brazil was an amazing experience! I was fortunate to develop strong relationships with professors, and administrators, which will be beneficial for future collaborations between our two Universities. Specifically, we hope to develop study abroad programs, so that students from both schools can learn from each other.